“Provide yourselves with no gold or silver, not even with coppers for your purses.” The way Jesus sent his disciples out made them totally dependent on the hospitality of others. When one avails themselves on another for their time, conversation or “breaking bread” we are drawing out a gift from that person, namely some form of hospitality. When I worked with “at-risk” young adults on the streets, or in public high schools, people usually were not expecting to “give of themselves in a hospitable way.” It could have been a “learning” for someone who had little confidence in themselves, and they stayed away from others, sometimes with hostility. For such a person isolated and alone, it was like “someone approached them, a stranger, asking them for some space, time, or attention.”
Jesus suggested that his disciples would look for a house where they could stay, “to seek out someone worthy.”
At the end of each Sunday Liturgy at Our Lady of Lourdes in Birmingham, Alabama, the people are deliberately and intentionally sent forth “with their mission” to seek out someone worthy. The difference between a “parish of convenience” and a “mission parish” is that those sent forth from a mission parish have a deliberate and intentional purpose in mind with regards to sharing the Good News during the course of the week with whomever crosses our paths.
God is never absent from any place in the world. Hospitality is the first sign of God’s presence.
Fr. Alex Steinmiller, C.P., is the administrator at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Birmingham, Alabama.